Review: Holly Lisle’s Writing Flash Fiction That Doesn’t Suck (Week 2)

Rating: Review in Progress

See my final review!

I was browsing Reddit, and came across an Ask Reddit thread about things Redditors will never completely get over. One story, about a writer who stopped writing due to childhood bullying touched me, and I read through all the comments. One of the commentors suggested a 3-week class by a woman I had never heard of: Holly Lisle’s Writing Flash Fiction That Doesn’t Suck, and even more importantly, the commentor provided a link to the course.

Week 2 Course Review
Week 2 starts out with another extremely simple exercise–  very similar to that first-grade exercise which initially made me feel patronized and slightly insulted my intelligence in week 1’s course.  But don’t be put off by it. If you follow through, magic happens! Your beginnings solidify into stories very quickly.

I’m not done with week 2 yet… partly because I have 15 stories instead of just 5, and partly because my sheer excitement is a hindering factor in my productivity. I am writing! Looking at my word document, I’m seeing all these words on the page, and these stories are coming to life. I’m just working on the “set up” for the middles, which is broken down into very simple instructions. The ideas are pouring out of my mind, at least when I can pull myself away from reading what I’ve already written. I feel so excited about my stories already.

I think a healthy dose of skepticism is good, but my skepticism about this course has been completely reversed! I’m in the area of barely controlled excitement, and I feel the urge to go through all of Holly Lisle’s classes based on the sense of accomplishment I’ve gotten just from this course.

Fortunately, I also have week 3’s course already, so as soon as I am done with Week 2, I can hop right into Week 3!

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The beginnings to short stories 11-15

Based on the “How to Write Flash Fiction That Doesn’t Suck” model I started several weeks ago, I’ve written the beginnings to 5 more short stories. Let me know which ones you’d be most interested to continue reading. The middles happen during lesson 2 and the ends happen during lesson 3! The beginnings to Story 1 through Story 5 are included in my review of the “How to Write Flash Fiction that Doesn’t Suck” post. Story 6 through Story 10 can be found in my previous post. As I complete various stories, I’ll update the beginnings to link to the finished story. As always, I love reading feedback, so leave a comment, tweet me, or email me!

Story 11:
“Annika’s mother’s is the last woman alive who was actually born on Earth, and if Annika wants to go camp out and spend her days staring at her mother’s home planet, then that’s what we’re going to do.”

Just finding the policy took considerable resources. No doubt, the man’s bewildered stare was as much politeness he could muster as he struggled to figure out a good way to explain this to his superiors. Europa was fairly peopled, but all of the satellite’s resources were devoted to converting methane to oxygen for its people. I hoped that the bureaucracy would feel some loyalty to Annika’s mother who is partially responsible for our colonization, to Annika’s many brilliant contributions, and even to my own contributions. The technology that brought us to Europa from Earth had not been improved upon, so I expected the trip would take at least 35 days… if the ion propulsion systems and solar sails hadn’t been dismantled already.

Story 12:
I grew up on Disney stories… on Princesses and Prince Charmings, on Fairy God Mothers, Evil Step-Mothers, and Wishes Upon Falling Stars. Well, I turned out not to be a Princess, and the man I loved was no Prince Charming. My God Mother couldn’t cure me with a wave of her want, and as for Evil Step-Mothers… mine is a saint and my best friend. I’ve never seen a falling star, though, and just once before I go, I’d like to see one. It seems we always want what we can’t have, and the first thing to go was my eye sight.

Story 13:
In every crime, the perpetrator makes seven mistakes. If I can find even one of those mistakes, I can usually find the Perp, too. But this… this crime scene is too perfect. In my profession, it’s common to think of the “perfect crime scene” and recount all the mistakes others have made… mistakes you learn from to make sure you’d never repeat them yourself. I can’t find that one mistake I need to find the Perp. No finger prints, except my own. The nearest house is my own. No tire marks except from my car. The woman’s head, hands, and feet are gone, and her body burned almost to the point of incineration.
Why can’t I remember where I’ve been for the last three days? And why won’t Aubrey return my calls?
I’m just distracted, that’s all. This isn’t the perfect crime scene. I just need to push away all distractions and focus. Focus.

Story 14:
The tiny human stared impolitely, which irked me, but given my treatment over the last millennium, I prefer the attention of a rude gaze over uncaring indifference. Or worse… comments uttered in full hearing distance, “I wish they’d move that rusty old heap. What is it supposed to be anyway? A lizard with fish scales?”
The tiny human kept staring, and I kept thinking of all the injustices. The neglect. The disrespect– a group of hooligan boys tried to pry off my head! Look at me! I’m covered in rust. My shining steel scales are breaking away, and my sharpened talons are now a pile of iron dust.

And how the young boy stared. And stared. And stared. My temper, and my jealousy got the better of me, and before I knew it, the little remaining moisture within began to heat. And then it began to steam. With glee, I exhaled a blast of hot steam… only it came out more as a huff, no doubt due to rusty plumbing!

Story 15:
There are so few children anymore. When I missed my cycle, I was celebrated by the women and pampered by all. My people revered me and respected my husband. Every night, the men came to him to ask him his trick, just as the women inquired about my food and how I laid down with my husband.
When my belly grew round and fat, there was scarcely a moment in the day when I did not have four or more hands pressed to my skin. Every day, I worked my grain and baked my bread, and every woman wanted my bread for her fertility. So many hopes, all dashed in a blood-soaked moon day. I held him in my arms until he was cold, and now I bear his burden. No home, no husband, no people.

Overlook Sitting Juneau

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The beginnings to short stories 6-10

Based on the “How to Write Flash Fiction That Doesn’t Suck” model I started on Wednesday, I’ve written the beginnings to 5 more short stories. Let me know which ones you’d be most interested to continue reading. The middles happen during week 2 and the ends happen during week 3! The beginnings to Story 1 through Story 5 are included in my review of the “How to Write Flash Fiction that Doesn’t Suck” post.

Beginnings:
Story 6:
My wife loves tiny things. She loves kittens, puppies, guppies, and babies. When I proposed to her, I bought a1.5 carat diamond solitaire, and we had to take it back for a tiny sapphire heart set between two miniscule dolphins. When she said she wanted another baby, and another, and couldn’t we adopt the newborn twins she heard about at the hospital, I said yes and our family grew huge, one (or two) tiny babies at a time. I made plenty of money, and I never envisioned that I’d have trouble supporting 5 or 7 or 9 kids. I’d never make less… let alone none at all.

Story 7:
14 rows. 8 gates in each row. 1 dog in every cage is 112 dogs. This one has 2 dogs. 113 dogs. Empty. Empty. Empty. 3 dogs here. Empty. 111 dogs. Perfect number, 111. Loud. Loud. Silent. Loud. Don’t like black ones. Blue eyes belong on humans, not dogs. This one. He talks in dog talk. Not loud, just talking.
The gate is in the way. Ugh! Gate won’t move. This one. Dog talker.
“Would you like to see this one, Jack?”
The gate is open. “Aoouuuwwww. Aoouuwwwooww.” I talk in dog talk, too. We are dog talkers.
“What are you saying, Jack? Are you talking to the dog?”
“This is Bit. You are not a dog talker like Bit, like me.”
“Alright, Jack. Let’s go look at the other dogs. Maybe you will like another one.”
“No. I will talk with Bit. Not loud ones.”

Story 8:
Dodge. Right jab. Right jab. Left hook. Right jab.
My fists should be large and imposing walls of meat and bone at the end of arms thick with muscle and strength. Looking down, these pathetic appendages could nearly pass for the feet of a canary.
Just once, though, I’d like to feel the violence flow through my blood, the joy and the accomplishment of a well-executed hit. My adversary will reel backwards, before regaining his footing and returning the hit. My jaw will be like the rock that breaks ships, unexpected, unmoving, and unforgiving. They will call me The Hulk. The Rock. The Mountain. I will be strong and violent, unmoved.

Story 9:
The sun mocks me low on the horizon this night, just as it has every night since June 9. Blackout curtains. Sleep masks. Sleeping pills. One artificial night after another. Each a poor substitute for the true night, when the warming sun falls away to blackness dotted with billions of stars that give contrast to the dark. I should move to the equator, where even at the height of the solstice, there is still a true night.
A sandy beach, warmed by the sinking sun. A sun that will sink and sink and sink, turning the blue sky orange, purple, and finally black. I’ll find a warm spot, away from noise and traffic and buildings. No blackout curtains or sleeping masks. Just my thin soul and the sinking sun. I will lay down, wiggle my body until the sand cups me perfectly, and then I will sleep.

Story 10:
They held hands, stealing glances with one another as they ordered coffees in the late morning. That should be me. I should be with that handsome man. I bet his name is Timothy, but only I call him Timmy. But Tammy, that wretched beast, she stole him from me before he even knew what waited for him. Well, I’ll show her. That’s right, Tammy… Enjoy holding his hand because by the end of the day, I’ll have the life I always deserved. I don’t know how you stole it from me, maybe the government helped you or maybe you found a time machine, but I will stop at nothing. Timmy won’t even remember you by the time I’m through with you.

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Review: Holly Lisle’s Writing Flash Fiction That Doesn’t Suck

Rating: Review in Progress

See my final review!

I was browsing Reddit, and came across an Ask Reddit thread about things Redditors will never completely get over. One story, about a writer who stopped writing due to childhood bullying touched me, and I read through all the comments. One of the commentors suggested a 3-week class by a woman I had never heard of: Holly Lisle’s Writing Flash Fiction That Doesn’t Suck, and even more importantly, the commentor provided a link to the course.

Week 1 Course Review
The course is designed to be three weeks long, but I completed the first week’s lesson in less than an hour. At first, I thought the exercises seemed exceptionally elementary. Really… even I know what makes a story a story (beginning, middle, end). After the first exercise, I was bored. I’m a college-educated woman, and everyone tells me I should be a writer. I just felt patronized after the first exercise of writing down things that are important to me. I did include the things that are important to me– being debt free, building my dream cabin, and so on. Just for kicks, I also included something that was completely off-the-wall– having a Florida panther as a pet/guardian. I hope that made you LOL because I got a giggle out of it, even as I wrote it.

Despite my arrogance and indignance at being patronized by this free course that touted the success of a woman I’d never heard of, I continued through to the second exercise, and the third. And by the time my hour was up, I had the beginnings of 5 short stories (which are posted below if you want to see them).

So my opinion of Week 1 is this: It’s so very, very basic, but what expert hasn’t been able to find renewed passion and clarity by getting back to the basics? I’m certainly no expert on writing, so I should probably start with the basics, anyway! Just follow through the course, and by the time you’re done, you’ll probably have the beginnings of 5 short stories that you wouldn’t have started otherwise. It’s a great way to get back to writing. In fact, I was so motivated and ready to start the next part of my short stories (using Holly’s methods rather than just charging along blindly), that I purposefully went out and searched for bootleg copies of her materials. My search was unsuccessful, so now I’m thinking about doing lesson 1 every day between now and the day that lesson 2 arrives in my inbox. That would give me the beginnings of 35 short stories.

Here are the beginnings to my short stories. Which story would you be most interested in reading more of?

Story 1:
I dressed the sleeping twins in two layers of warm clothes over their pajamas and then in their snow suits. Thankfully, my children sleep like the dead and nothing wakes them, save the morning sun. They got that from their dad, and I’m twice thankful that he’s passed out on the couch, whiskey glass in hand. I hesitate for a moment over the dog. The Bull Mastiff weighs almost twice as much as I do, and I don’t know how I’m going to feed my children or myself… let alone Moose. Well, I couldn’t leave him, anyway. He doesn’t deserve the wrath of my husband when he finally wakes to discover I’ve gone. Plus, Moose has always been a good alert dog, and he’s big enough to scare off just about anyone.

Story 2:
I’ve had too much drink, but that’s nothing new. The barkeep is fussing about Zaria again, and in my drunkenness, I must defend my companion’s honor.

“I will never understand people who say they aren’t cat people. Look at Zaria. Look at her gleaming black coat. Gaze into her green eyes and tell me you aren’t entranced by her beauty and intelligence. She’s one of the last Florida panthers worth breeding, but I won’t hitch her up to just any old alley cat. No, sir-ee! She’s going to make me a fortune as soon as I get to New Jacksonville.”

My hand burns as I slam my last large bill down on the bar. “Make it a double!”

The large shooter is filled to the brim with clear, intoxicating liquid.

“You know, traveler, it’s a long way to New Jacksonville with naught but a little pussy cat for protection.

Story 3:
“Absolutely not. There’s no fucking way! Josh and I go back to the beginning, when we were just a couple dudes dreaming in my bloody garage, okay? So you take your little reports and your rainbow charts and shove them up your ass! You fuckers are all autistic robots with no clue what it means to be a real friend and business partner.”

True to my insult, the slender blonde in the power suit showed no reaction to my outrage. She calmly handed me her cell phone. “If you will read this headline, sir.”

“CWNN Breaking News: Accommodating AI shares tanked! Stock value drops to $1.22 in less than 60 seconds of trading as CEO Josh Grobt gleams, “Accommodating AI is free to the world… it’s my gift and my legacy!”

“His fucking gift?! It’s my fucking software!”

Story 4:
I shake the man’s hand, slipping a $20 to him. He clasps my arm and slips me a little Foil.

I am a fucking god… or at least I will be in just a few minutes. I sit on the curb and pull out a cigarette. The Foil seems to slip right into the cigarette. I exhale, smile to myself, and light up. This is going to be so good.

As I inhale, I can feel the molten Foil flowing into my lungs and into my blood stream. I feel it in my chest, in my arms, and it explodes in my head.

I know I can do anything. I could get Kara back, and the kids and I could go to Disney World like we always planned. Another hit, and maybe I’ll stop by the office and consider taking my old job back.

Story 5:
“Hi Omar. How are you feeling? Are you sure you’re up for an interview right now?”

“One question at a time, please, miss…”

“Damsen. I’m Anita Damsen. It’s an honor to meet you, Omar.”

“Miss Damsen. Please sit and forget the formalities.”

“Of course. Call me Anita. Before we get into the details of your accident, will you tell what you felt when you found out you qualified for the Olympics?”

“Elated. I worked so hard, and after hearing people call me an underdog and hearing that my chances were too slim to pan out… I pulled through. I lifted every third day, and I ran every single day. I had no cheat days and no excuses. It all paid off. I gave it my all, and it all paid off. But just look at me now. I need a nurse to wipe rear end.”

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The cost of clearing land!

The last weekend of June, I rented a bulldozer. The company I used delievered the bull dozer to my property for $125, and I got to use up to 8 hours of dozer time for $325, and any hours over that was $41 per hour. I opted to have the company fill up the dozer for me, and that charge was market price plus $1 per gallon.

Unfortunately, neither the rental company nor I thought to check the hours on the dozer, so I’m not sure exactly how many hours were put on the dozer. Definitely at least 8 hours, but maybe as many as 15. I do know that I used up 15 gallons of fuel, and the fuel charge was $75.00. All told, my weekend of dozer work cost $525.

Please note that my dad did the vast majority of the dozer work, and if you didn’t know what you were doing, you wouldn’t have gotten as much done in the amount of time that he did. A skilled operator can do so much more than a novice– my boyfriend and I both took turns on the dozer, and my dad looked like Mario Andretti compared to us. Plus, when the dozer stops working for no reason at all, you want someone who can look at it and understand what it’s supposed to be doing. My dad managed to fix a very minor issue with a piece of wire, and I would have had to drive out of camp to an area with cell reception to call the rental company.

If you are going to rent a dozer, make sure you have someone who knows what they are doing to help you figure it out. More than one tree was accidentally felled when a tree we meant to push over fell too close to it. There’s a lot of potential to get hurt when you’re pushing over trees that are 40 feet tall and weigh over a thousand pounds. Maybe, if you’re lucky, the person who helps you will do it for free because it’s fun to do!

Other than the cost of purchasing the property, this is the first real sum of money that I’ve spent on the property.

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4 Tips for taking stunning before and after photos

June was a very productive month at the property! I rented a bull dozer and my parents helped my boyfriend and I clear some land.

I must admit that I envisioned posting stunning before and after photos that would leave a big impression on everyone who viewed them. I had hoped to capture the clearing of the land in progress, and while I took many photos, they are so drastically different that it’s difficult to tell that you’re looking at the same thing in two photos. So here are a few things I leared from my failed attempt at before and after photos.

  1. If you decide you want to take before and after photos, you should have a very good idea of where you’re going to be working. The places where I took the “before” photos were not the places where the most impact was visible “after.” As a result, I had to move slightly in the pictures to really capture the work that was done.
  2. Also, when you clear land, you change the landscape so severely that unless you make a point of including a specific, obvious landmark in both sets of photos, it’s very difficult to tell where you are. Create a landmark if you have to– tie a ribbon around a tree that won’t be felled or drive a shovel into a mound of dirt– just make sure that the landmark makes it into every picture. The best thing I could have used in my pictures was the outhouse, and while it is a very nice outhouse, I actually went out of my way to keep it out of the photos. It wasn’t until I got ready to post the pictures that I realized that I had missed out on the opportunity to really give my photos some impact.
  3. Better yet, put your camera in a stable spot, on a tripod if you can, and snap a photo every hour or so. Then, combine the photos into a time lapse.
  4. Panoramas aren’t that great for capturing a wide range of space if your surface isn’t flat. I feel like I have three levels at my property. There’s the lowest, least used area by the road. A sizeable hill up to the place where we have the outhouse and the fire ring. and a big hill up to the place where the cabin will go. I took two panoramas– one from the top level where I want to build and one from the level where the outhouse is. They’re nice to look at, but I don’t know that they really show how many trees we felled and how much more usuable space there is now.
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Adding machine cake

My boss is retiring next month, and my coworkers are having a going-away party for him. Since he’s an accountant, I made an adding machine cake for his farewell party. For those of you who are not familiar with such antiquated pieces of computing technology, an adding machine is just a fancy calculator with a little space for printing out your calculations. I found some pictures online of what an adding machine cake might look like, and then I got to work.

First, I made my homemade fondant (using powdered sugar and glycerin), because fondant needs to set up for 24 hours before you put it on your cake. I couldn’t find my original fondant recipe, so I had to use a new one. If you’re going to make homemade fondant, make sure you get a good recipe that explains things succinctly and in order. I read the recipe through several times, but when I was making the fondant, the recipe was all over the place. I made a much bigger mess than I needed to, and the fondant didn’t turn out anyway. It was way too dry and crumbly. I tried fixing it by kneading in more shortening and zapping it in the microwave for a few seconds, but I kneaded small batches for over an hour just to get enough fondant to do my embellishments. Even though I was able to get a small portion of the homemade fondant to the point that it was usable, I ended up just making a second batch using the marshmallow fondant recipe. I always thought that marshmallow fondant was cheating, but now, I might be inclined to take my judgemental words back. Marshmallow fondant saved my butt– at 11 PM last night, I still couldn’t knead enough crisco into my overly dry fondant to get enough of it to cover my cake. In less than an hour, I had a brand new batch of marshmallow fondant ready to go. The recipe said to let the marshmallow fondant recipe sit overnight, but it was fine after sitting for an hour or so.

After I made my first batch of fondant, I wrapped it up and let it sit overnight. The next day, I made a 13″ x 9″ yellow cake. I cut a few inches off the bottom of the long side and stacked it on top of the remaining piece of cake. I used a butter knife to trim the edges so that the corners were round nicely. Then, I used a butter knife to cut an angle in the short piece to make the section for the adding machine display. I put the cake in the deep freezer to cool completely.

While the cake was cooling, I started fixing my first batch of homemade fondant. I got enough for my adding machine buttons, my adding machine display, and my adding machine tape (the paper!). I used gel food dye to make the colors– my adding machine tape is really white because I used colorless vanilla extract. I think almond extract is disgusting, and I never make fondant with it, even though most recipes call for almond extract. I always stick with vanilla or peppermint extracts. Using regular vailla extract just leaves a little ivory tint to my fondant, so I make sure I use the colorless flavoring if I need perfectly white fondant. To make the buttons, I used a small square cookie cutter. For the black display, I just used a ruler to cut a skinny rectangle in the fondant. For the adding machine tape, I rolled out a flat piece of fondant, Use my ruler to trim it into a rectangle, and then rolled it up. The inner part squeezed out a little bit, so I just worked it into a little bracket that looks like a paper holder.

When I realized that I had been kneading the same batch of fondant for 3+ hours and still could not get a non-crumbling layer to cover my whole cake, I decided to scrap the rest and make a marshmallow fondant. The marshmallow fondant will not be perfectly white. I’m not sure why it turned out slightly ivory in color, but I like the slight color contrast between the base layer and the adding machine tape.

I used a toothpick and cookie decorating icing to draw my numbers on the buttons. If I hadn’t wasted so much time on trying to save my first batch of fondant, I could have done a lot more with the details. That’s the fun of using fondant, afterall.

This cake was very easy to make. If you decide to make one for the accountant, auditor, or math whiz in your life, I highly recommend that you test the fondant out weeks in advance! Fondant keeps really well, so on the off chance that you make a perfect batch during your test run, you can just wrap it up in plastic wrap and store it in a cool spot in an air-tight container.

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Review: The Apocolypse Sucks!

Rating: 3 Stars

The Apocolypse Sucks is a graphic novel written by Peggy Chambers and illustrated by Zachary Brunner. The book is a self-proclaimed pulp mash-up, and so I went into the whole reading experience expecting a certain level of whimsy to the story. This is a great book to put a smile on your face and make waiting in line or at an airport less miserable. It’s worth every second of the time it takes to read, but if you just don’t have room on your goodreads list, you won’t be missing a critical piece of literary work.

I loved the story– it whiled away a nice afternoon. I read it on my Kindle, so the graphics were only slightly lost on me. I’m willing to bet I would have gotten more out of it if I had a paper copy, but I had the next best thing, so the kindle version is what I got. If you like graphic novels, or if you aren’t sure how you feel about them, read this one. It’s a good “pulp mash-up” which to my mind means that there’s a certain level of cheesiness that is required and expected, but there were plenty of insightful moments, too.

One part that has stuck with me is when one of the main female characters explains how her friend (the other main female character) was just the office slut before the world went crazy. They became close friends, and then drifted apart before coming back together again in the end. My friendships are a lot like that– people come and go in and out of my life for no real reason… just because. It’s not that I’m bad at keeping in touch or that I have fickle feelings. I just kind of go through phases of hibernation where I really don’t socialize much at all. My best friends are the ones with whom I can resume a conversation right where we left off 9 months ago. I just identified really well with the character, and it added depth to my observations regarding my own friendships.

The book was a simple read, and it was thoroughly enjoyable. Give it a shot!

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Off-the-grid hot tubs!

Everyone has that thing that makes winter bearable. For some people, it’s hot cocoa, ice skating, or vacations to Hawaii. I had a friend who bought a house with a hot tub. It was winter, and it was bitterly cold. I thought she was crazy for putting on her bathing suit, traipsing across the frozen deck in her bare feet and bare skin, and climbing in the hot tub. I knew I was crazy for following her. And, after about 5 seconds, I realized that I had missing out. The hot tub bubbled and steamed, and the cold wind blew so hard that it whipped up a fine, frozen mist off the top of the hot tub. Being submerged in hot water, with the frozen mist keeping my face cool was an amazing feeling. It’s a great way to beat the “I’m cold to the bone” feeling that accompanies winter in Alaska, and it makes being outside– even in freezing temperatures with a howling gale of arctic wind– enjoyable… luxurious, even.

So, my boyfriend and I were discussing my desire to own a hot tub in comparison to his assertion that we do not need one. His arguments are fantastic. We don’t have a large enough flat place in our yard for a hot tub. We live in a pretty densely populated area, so we don’t have any privacy. We would either be looking at the walls of a gazebo or in our neighbors’ windows. So, being the true born and bred Alaskan that he is, he suggested that we put a hot tub at the property. My arguments were fantastic. I can’t go up to the property at the end of every long work day. We don’t have water or electricty at the property. We can’t even get to the property in the winter since we don’t have the drive way plowed.

And, then, my world changed with these words: We don’t need electricity… just a wood-fired hot tub. I had never heard of such, and I never even conceived that such a thing would be possible. And yet, the Dutch have it all figured out already with the Dutch tub, and the Japanese have been doing it for longer than my country has been a country.

The Dutch Tub:
The Dutch Tub

Now that fancy version is over $5,000, and I don’t know how I would begin to get one to Alaska. However, with a little studying, I found that the mechanism for heating the water is really simple. Coiled tubing, made from stainless steel or even copper, allows cold water at the bottom of the tub to flow into the pipe at the bottom. As the water circulates through the coil, the fire (which sits in the center of the coil) heats the water. The water then flows out of the top pipe back into the pool. You don’t need a motor or a pump to get the water flowing– just a few quick stirs with a paddle of some sort and a fire is enough to get it started. It takes a few hours to heat the whole tub of water, but you could easily build one of these yourself. I found oil and gas companies that will coil the tubing and ship it to you for $400. You can buy a big tub from co-op stores for under $1000. We could have a few hundred gallons of water trucked up to the property with relative ease.

I’m really excited about the prospect of having a hot tub powered by heat convection at my property. I can’t wait until the snow melts so that I can get started on all my projects!

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I sewed my first thing!

I sewed a small bag for my boyfriend’s aunt who hosted us for a long weekend and took us adventuring in Juneau.

The design was never written down or printed by my sewing instructor (the class came free with the purchase of my machine).

I love how it turned out. My boyfriend picked the fabric out (made with just a fat quarter).

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This is a weirdly-folded view to show the different fabrics I used for the lining.

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The class instructor convinced me to buy a special foot for my sewing machine that creates a nice look using three strands of round cords. I was really happy with how they turned out. On my other projects, the material bunched up quite a lot, so these results are better than usual. I don’t want you to go out and buy an expensive novelty foot that leave you disappointed most of the time.

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This is another view with the corners tucked in. It makes a nice square shape. I wish I had taken a photo with the bag filled. This photo also shows the embellishment created with a second novelty foot my class instructor convinced me to purchase (I have a back bone, but who can argue with these results?!). This foot uses embroidery floss, and if you are in the mood for a special sewing machine foot, I would recommend this one over the other I used for the cords.

The two feet I used were:
5-hole cording foot
7-hole cording foot

The one I recommend is the 7-hole cording foot, and I suggest using embroidery thread instead of the thicker cording. It takes a lot of patience to get the thick cording onto the fabric without excessive bunching. The embroidery thread was effortless! The feet keep the cords neatly sorted for you, so all you have to do is make sure that you don’t have any knots in your cord/thread.

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